Yoga: A Warrior’s Practice

I love the Warrior poses. Just from the name “warrior” gives me the sense of strength. I also love to read stories of warriors, which are always exciting and inspiring. Recently, when I recalled an ancient Indian story about the great warrior Arjuna, the concept of yoga from the Yoga Sutra suddenly clicked.

……

A group of warriors were studying under their trainer Drona. They had practiced hard and they were all strong, brave and had confidence to defeat enemies. But Drona knew they were not ready to fight. As warriors, at least one more skill was needed to stand firm in the midst of turmoil.

Drona had set up a small wooden bird in a distant tree and these warriors were supposed to strike the eye of the bird with their arrow. Before they took action, Drona asked them what they saw.

“I see the wooden bird, the leaves beside the bird, the branch the bird is sitting on, the tree.”

“I can see grass under the tree, other trees around, the sky, the clouds…”

One by one, warriors gave similar answers. They named off everything. Drona asked them to put down their bows as he knew they would not hit the eye of the bird.

It was Arjuna’s turn.

“What do you see?” Drona asked.

“The eye of the wooden bird”, Arjuna answered clearly.

“Is this the only thing you can see? Are you sure? There are lots of things around. Your eyesight must have some problems.” Drona was teasing Arjuna.

“The eye of the wooden bird, this is the only thing I see.” Arjuna answered firmly.

Drona was pleased with this response and ordered Arjuna to shoot. Arjuna held his bow steady, gazing at the target and shot the arrow which hit the bird’s eye.

……

In the Yoga Sutra a definition of Yoga is given. T.K.V. Desikachar, in his book “The Heart of Yoga”, has translated it as:

“Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions.”

To stop the fluctuations in the consciousness we need a subdued mind. A mind that is able to be used as a tool to lead the way instead of being distracted by the movements in the consciousness. We need to have the ability to direct the mind to our goal.

Yoga is a practice for the mind. The state of mind can turn a posture exercise into a Yoga practice. Enjoy Yoga! 


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